What is Moonshine – Moonshine is a very high proof spirit made primarily from cereal grains such as corn, barley, and rye. It’s clear because it isn’t barrel aged. Often called, “white lightening,” moonshine is technically a white whiskey. Although the majority of the grain used to make moonshine is corn, it typically is made using malted barley and rye as well.
Is making moonshine illegal in US?
Home Distilling While individuals of legal drinking age may produce wine or beer at home for personal or family use, Federal law strictly prohibits individuals from producing distilled spirits at home (see 26 United States Code (U.S.C.) 5042(a)(2) and 5053(e)).
Within title 26 of the United States Code, section 5601 sets out criminal penalties for activities including the following. Offenses under this section are felonies that are punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, for each offense.
- 5601(a)(1) – Possession of an unregistered still.
- 5601(a)(2) – Engaging in business as a distiller without filing an application and receiving notice of registration.
- 5601(a)(6) – Distilling on a prohibited premises. (Under 26 U.S.C.5178(a)(1)(B), a distilled spirits plant may not be located in a residence or in sheds, yards, or enclosures connected to a residence.)
- 5601(a)(7) – Unlawful production or use of material fit for production of distilled spirits.
- 5601(a)(8) – Unlawful production of distilled spirits.
- 5601(a)(11) – Purchase, receipt, and/or processing of distilled spirits when the person who does so knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that Federal excise tax has not been paid on the spirits.
- 5601(a)(12) – Removal or concealment of distilled spirits on which tax has not been paid.
Under 26 U.S.C.5602, engaging in business as a distiller with intent to defraud the United States of tax is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Under 26 U.S.C.5604(a)(1), transporting, possessing, buying, selling, or transferring any distilled spirit unless the container bears the closure required by 26 U.S.C.5301(d) (i.e., a closure that must be broken in order to open the container) is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, for each offense.
- Under 26 U.S.C.5613, all distilled spirits not closed, marked, and branded as required by law and the TTB regulations shall be forfeited to the United States.
- In addition, 26 U.S.C.5615(1) provides that unregistered stills and/or distilling apparatus also will be forfeited.
- Under 26 U.S.C.5615(3), whenever any person carries on the business of a distiller without having given the required bond or with the intent to defraud the United States of tax on distilled spirits, the personal property of that person located in the distillery, and that person’s interest in the tract of land on which the still is located, shall be forfeited to the United States.
Under 26 U.S.C.5686, possessing liquor or property intended to be used in violation of the law is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Such liquor and property is also subject to the seizure and forfeiture provisions in 26 U.S.C.5688.
Under 26 U.S.C.7201, any person who willfully attempts to evade or defeat any Internal Revenue Code tax (including the tax on distilled spirits) has committed a felony and shall be fined up to $100,000, imprisoned for up to 5 years, or both, plus the cost of prosecution. Under 26 U.S.C.7301, any property subject to tax, or raw materials and/or equipment for the production of such property, in the possession of any person for the purpose of being sold or removed in violation of the internal revenue laws may be seized and shall be forfeited to the United States.
In addition, any property (including aircraft, vehicles, and vessels) used to transport or used as a container for such property or materials may be seized and shall be forfeited to the United States. Further, 26 U.S.C.7302 adds that it is unlawful to possess any property intended for use, or which has been used, in violation of the internal revenue laws; no property rights shall exist in any such property.
How do you make real moonshine?
A GUIDE TO MAKING MOONSHINE – Moonshine is one of the most famous spirits in the U.S. and it has a very long history. Moonshine is especially popular with home and craft distillers and, when made properly, it can be one of the smoothest and most potent liquors available.
Americans have been making moonshine for centuries, and moonshine purists continue to perfect this exceptional drink. Moonshine is a variant of whiskey, which is distilled from corn mash. When made properly, it is completely clear and very potent. Distillation is the only way to make moonshine, and distillation in pot stills is the most popular method.
Distillation occurs when the corn mash—with appropriate amounts of sugar and yeast to cause fermentation—is heated in a large tank or pot. Vapors rise from the heated mixture into the condenser, where they are then cooled into a purified liquid. This liquid is the ethanol, which gives moonshine its powerful trademark zing.
The corn mash consistency will affect the production of ethanol, so adjusting the yeast, corn and sugar in the mixture will make a difference in the moonshine produced. Different times and temperature also make a difference; the first liquid distilled can be toxic and should be discarded. To learn more about how to make moonshine and moonshine recipes, see our books, how-tos, videos and other resources online.
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Do people drink moonshine straight?
Definitely! Moonshine is traditionally sipped straight, right out of the jar. You can also drink it in shots.
Is whiskey just aged vodka?
Is It Dangerous To Distill At Home Or Make Moonshine ?
Patrick: I spent so much time researching “moonshine” after our call last night that I figured I’d share what I discovered on this blog. So here’s my attempt at answering a few basic questions as we prepare to devise a new line of spirits:
- How is vodka distinct from “white” whiskey? They’re both clear and unaged, so what’s the actual difference?
- How are vodka and white whiskey different from “moonshine”? And what is “moonshine” really ? Is it a vodka, a whiskey, or something else entirely?
As pertains to the first question, it seems the difference between vodka and white whiskey boils down to three things: ingredients, oak, and proof, Categorization is basically a function of slight deviations in the production process. Put simply, vodka—unlike whiskey—can be made from a wider range of ingredients, and it doesn’t need to be aged (in oak barrels or otherwise), and it’s distilled at a higher proof.
- Simple enough.
- But why keep it simple? Let’s needlessly delve WAY into this.
- INGREDIENTS The vast majority of well-known vodkas are made from grain.
- But vodka is also popularly distilled from potatoes and fruits,
- Unlike whiskey—the production process and ingredients of which are tightly regulated by law—there are no similar rules dictating or limiting what ingredients vodka distillers have to use.
( In the United States, the Code of Federal Regulations merely defines vodka as “neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color”. Sounds um tasty.) By contrast, whiskey distillers’ choices are limited, as whiskey must be distilled from a grain.
- Sure, you can find off-the-beaten path grains with which to craft your spirits—like quinoa, spelt, oats, etc.—but by legal definition, you can’t distill whiskey from such vodka staples as watermelons, cookies, potatoes, grapes, running shoes, etc.
- OAK There’s another critical restriction on whiskies.
In addition to being distilled only from grains, a grain spirit MUST “kiss” the inside of an oak barrel if it’s to be qualified as a whiskey. If it doesn’t, the spirit cannot legally be considered whiskey. Instead, it would likely just be classified as a grain-based vodka!
- A quick aside, Patrick it’s worth noting that the “oak barrel” requirement is a phenomenon unique to American and Scottish law. Other countries use the term whiskey to reference spirits aged in barrels made of other types of wood, such as maple or hickory. According to this website, “Canadian whiskey, Irish whiskey, and Japanese whiskey only require that wood barrels are used but don’t specify that oak is the only permissible type.”
- But I digress.
Notably, there’s no requirement for how long whiskey must age in an oak barrel to be considered a whiskey. White (clear) whiskies are merely the result of pouring the distilled alcohol from the still into a barrel taking a deep breath and then immediately pouring it right the fuck back out, to be bottled and sent out into the world.
- PROOF There’s one final attribute that distinguishes a spirit as a vodka vs.
- A whiskey: proof.
- As long as the spirit coming off the still is at or above 95% alcohol by volume (ABV), and as long as it is then cut with water to no less than 40% ABV when bottled, you’ve got a vodka.
- That two-part determination is what classifies a spirit as a vodka.
With whiskey, on the other hand, the spirit must be distilled at less than 95% ABV. But just as with vodka, as long as the spirit is then cut with water during the bottling process such that it’s still above 40% ABV when bottled, it’s a whiskey. (From my research, it seems that if you cut a spirit to anything less than 40%, then pursuant to the legal classification, you’re just a lil’ bitch.) TO RECAP : when it comes to proof, the spirit must exceed the 95% ABV threshold during distillation to be a vodka, whereas it cannot exceed the 95% ABV threshold during distillation to be a whiskey.
(In fact, the same exact corn “vodka” could be called whiskey if it came out at the 95% ABV and was then placed in oak barrels,) * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Bet. If we know the difference between vodka and white whiskey, then what the fuck is “moonshine”? This was the question that first drove our initial discussion, and it turns out that the confusion stems from the fact that lots of distillers and liquor companies nowadays have elected to use the term “moonshine” incorrectly as a commercial gimmick.
Here’s the bottom line: “Moonshine” is liquor (usually whiskey or rum) made in secret ( a ) without getting the proper state and federal licenses to do so, ( b ) without paying the requisite taxes, and ( c ) without adhering to any of the legal (and safety!) standards governing the production of spirits.
- Another aside here’s an article that conflates the actual definition of moonshine with the more gimmicky modern commercial interpretation of a clear and unaged whiskey.
- “There are lots of products sold today that call themselves moonshine for the sake of nostalgia, tradition, and mystique. But the same product could just as easily be called white whiskey. ” Preach to these liars.
Moonshine purists define the spirit as a homemade, unaged whiskey, marked by its clear color, corn base, and high alcohol content—sometimes peaking as high as 190 proof. Traditionally, it was produced in a homemade still and bottled in a mason jar. And there isn’t much of a difference at all between unaged whiskey and moonshine; they largely have the same production process.
But “moonshine” is distinguished from whiskey by virtue of its illegal nature, rather than being a different type of alcohol. Under this conception, “moonshine” is just a whiskey that hasn’t been taxed and the saga of colonial America’s refusal to pay taxes on its distilling operations is a critical part of our nation’s history that we’ll detail in future posts.
But does moonshine have to be a whiskey ? Nope! Actual moonshine—the stuff you’d buy on the black market if you didn’t want to pay a tax—can be made from any fermentable substrate, from sugar to grain to stone fruit. Whatever clandestine distillers can get their hands on and want to work with (under cover of darkness, by the light of the moon—thus the term) is fair game.
- Recall: Neutral spirits must be at least 95% alcohol coming off the still, whereas whiskey must be distilled to less than 95% ABV.
- By the way, note that the lower the proof at distillation, the more flavorful congeners carry over from the grain to the final spirit.
When it comes to commercial sellers, examine whether the “moonshine” label is proclaiming a whiskey or a vodka. If the label says “neutral spirits,” it’s not whiskey, Is the dead horse sufficiently beaten? Let’s decapitate it for good measure. How does one make moonshine? Answer: illegally.
- The recipe is simple— · Corn meal · Sugar · Yeast · Water Sometimes, other ingredients are included to add flavor or kick.
- And technically, as I’ve said, though alcohol can be distilled from almost any kind of grain, virtually all moonshine made in the United States for the last 150 years has been made with corn.) The primary aesthetic difference between “moonshine” and the whiskey you buy at the liquor store boils down to aging.
When whiskey comes out of the still, it’s so clear it looks like water—and moonshiners bottle it just like that, There’s no aging process, and that’s what gives whiskey its color and mellows the harsh taste. Moonshine undergoes no such mellowing, which is why it has such a “kick”.
- So why is distilling alcohol at home illegal in the first place ? “The government cites several reasons for keeping distilling illegal.
- First, it can be dangerous,
- Distilleries bring two materials into close proximity – alcohol vapor and heat sources – that can cause disastrous explosions when not managed correctly.
There are also lots of impurities that can lead to all sorts of health problems even death! And cynically, there’s another reason: Federal excise taxes, Distilled spirits are taxed at the highest rate of any alcohol, far more than beer or wine. (A tax on spirits is the very first tax ever levied in the United States!) Naturally, the government is none too keen on surrendering its share of the revenue raised by a Nation filled with alcoholics.
And so it criminalizes any liquor production into the revenue of which it can’t sink its grubby little fingernails. (Please admire the grammatically impeccable placement of prepositions in that last sentence.) * * * * * * * * * * * * In summation, New Scotch Spirits will never legally sell any brand of spirit under the “moonshine” moniker.
But catch us back in the woods under cover of a new moon and we might have some New Scotch “Select” to offer you. Shhhhh. I hope this post answers any and all questions we could ever again possibly have on such a stupid subject. I need a drink, and I don’t care whether it’s a vodka, a whiskey, or a moonshine masquerading as both.
Is moonshine a liquor or alcohol?
How is Moonshine Made? – Moonshine is an alcoholic drink that is typically made from corn, sugar, and water. The corn is mashed, and then the sugar and water are added. This mixture is then boiled. The alcohol content of moonshine can be as high as 95%, which is significantly higher than the alcohol content of most other types of liquor.
The first step in making moonshine is to cook the corn.
This can be done in a variety of ways, but the most common method is to use a still. A still is a device that is used to distill liquids. It consists of a pot that is heated on a stove and a tube that leads from the pot to a container that collects the distilled liquid.
The second step is to add sugar and water.
This mixture is then boiled. The boiling helps to extract the alcohol from the corn mash.
The third step is to collect the distilled liquid.
The distilled liquid is collected in a container that is known as a receiver. The receiver can be either a glass jar or a bottle.
The fourth step is to filter the moonshine.
The fourth step is to filter the moonshine. This can be filtered using a variety of methods, but the most common method is to use a filter bag. This will remove any sediment or other particles from the moonshine. You can also use a coffee filter or cheesecloth for this purpose.
The fifth step is to bottle the moonshine.
To bottle the moonshine, simply pour it into a Mason jar. You can also use other types of jars or bottles, but Mason jars are the most common. Make sure to leave some space at the top of the jar so that the moonshine can carbonate. If you want to make it look more professional, you can buy a bottle capper and caps from a store.
The sixth step is to age the moonshine.
To age the moonshine, you can store it in a barrel. This will give it a smooth, mellow flavor. You can also age it in a carboy or glass jug. If you do this, make sure to use an airtight seal to prevent the moonshine from oxidizing. Aging it will improve its flavor and color, and it will also help to remove any impurities.
The seventh step is to drink the moonshine.
The most popular way to drink it is to drink it straight, but there are other ways to consume it as well. Some people like to add it to their coffee or tea or mix it with other drinks. There are also recipes that call for moonshine to be used in place of other ingredients.